Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on The Burglary  CSPAN  March 9, 2014 8:15am-9:40am EDT

8:15 am
>> here's a look at the figures and festivals that booktv will be covered in the upcoming months:
8:16 am
>> next, someone told sister at march 19th break and dances in pennsylvania by eight activities at the group citizens to confess to get the fbi. the documents revealed the existence of jay edgar hoover's secret counterintelligence program that targeted people he
8:17 am
groups the fbi considered to be subversive, including but not limited to members of the black panther party and the american indian movement. this is a little over an hour. ♪ >> in the spring of 1970, the war in vietnam was preaching. >> american battle to be at not now total 1001 or 42. >> anti-work were finally crashing. >> it's like a nightmare unfolding. i took what was outrage and horror about what was going on and i realized that i had to take it somewhere. >> bonnie raines worked at a day care center in philadelphia. her husband have religion at temple university. they were the picture of the
8:18 am
golden couple. >> wieden 8-year-old comest extrude and 2-year-old. we were family folks who also wanted to keep another track active in our lives, which was political act to visit. >> that activism attracted the attention of the fbi, its director, the powerful and figured she had her have her receive the antiwar movement which claims from radical revolutionary to peaceful protesters as a threat to national security. >> at one rally i had one of my children on my back and not only did they take my picture, but they took their picture. >> protesters became increasingly convinced of the fbi was conducting a covert campaign against them, tapping phones in infiltrating antiwar groups. >> we know is systematically trying to squash the lifeblood of democracy. >> determined to give proof efp was crossing the line of activists in hannaford physics
8:19 am
professor william avedon hatched a plan. he reached out to six others including a social worker, graduates duty in the taxi driver named keith forsyth. >> we agreed to meet somewhere we could talk beauty says that what you think about the idea of breaking into an fbi office. i look at them like you are serious, aren't you? is pretty vehement in my opposition to the war. i felt marching up and down the street was not cutting it anymore. it was like okay, time to kick it up a notch. >> the crew decided to break into a small fbi field office in media, pennsylvania. >> once i got over the shock of thinking this was a 90s thing i'd ever heard in my life, i'm like this is a great idea because were not going to make any allegations. we're going to take their own paperwork, signed at their own people, including she had her
8:20 am
hoover and give it to the newspapers. see you argue with that. >> in the third-floor attic team to beat up responsibilities and assign tasks. they hung masks to learn that the neighborhood come up landscapers and took extensive notes on the comings and goings in the building. >> i signed up for a course. that was my job to get us in the door. practice several times a week. after he met to get good. >> army was assigned the job of going inside the office. >> i was to call the office and make an appointment as a student doing research and opportunities for women in the fbi. so they gave me an appointment. i try to disguise myself as best i could and i went to say goodbye and i acted confused about where the door buzzer that gave me a chance to check out both rooms and where the file cabinets were. >> when he discovered no farm system and no security cars. she found a second tour of the
8:21 am
demon side. >> when she came back with the news, we became convinced we can get this done. we had more to lose than anybody else in the group because we had these kids. >> we face the reality others were arrested in a trial we would be in prison for many years. we had to make some plans for that. >> with a solid understanding of how they would conduct the break-in, they needed to figure out when. >> march 8, 1971, frasier and ali were fighting for the championship of the world. we have the feeling that maybe the cops might be distracted. >> while the crew waited at a nearby hotel, forsyth arrived at the office alone. >> hello, welcome to the door and one of the locks and i just
8:22 am
about had a heart attack. bottom line is they could not pick the lock. >> demo scalded off at the second or bonnie notice gave them another chance. >> by that point can you know you plan. well done on the floor come pick the lock and 20 seconds. a deadbolt on the other side. i put the bar in their and yanked it. at one point i heard a noise inside the office and i'm like, are they in there waiting for me? basically said to myself, only one way to find out. i'm going in. >> next come the dsa crew walked into an empty office wearing business suits and carrying several suitcases. they cleaned out file cabinet and then make their way downstairs to the getaway car and drove off in notice. the group reconvene at a farmhouse in our stride away in started up packing.
8:23 am
>> were like i can't believe this work. we knew there was going to be some gold in there somewhere. >> or sort and file some all of a sudden you look at this, look at this. >> after several long it's taking for documents that looked the most revealing come to broker sent copies to journalists, including "washington post" reporter, betty medsger. >> the cover letter which the citizens commission to investigate the fbi and the first file i read was a group of fat eid agent who were told to enhance the paranoia and the antiwar movement create an atmosphere that is an fbi agent behind every mailbox. >> .net show i supposed not to write about the stolen documents saying they could endanger lives. >> the attorney general called to key editors and try to convince them not to publish. >> posted published a story on the front page.
8:24 am
the first of several reports told how agents turned local police, letter carriers and switchboard operators into informants. >> strong editorials calling for investigation of the fbi. >> another document with a more explosive. other parties try to uncover the meaning, the fbi was desperate to find the burglars. the pure put those 200 agent an investigation. overspent sleep with the poster who visited their office. >> his command was fired without warning. >> agents are sure bonnie are there many antiwar activists who fit the description. >> we could hide within thousands of people. they were so many other factors. >> years later, nbc reporter figured out the meaning of that word. >> secret fbi memo states of the
8:25 am
today show the late she had her hoover ordered a nationwide can pay to decide the activities of the new left without telling any of his superiors about it. >> burglaries force blackmail letters on threats of violence used. >> the fbi initially defended its actions. >> the government would've been derelict in its duty had not taken measures to protect the fabric of our society. >> diverse techniques for worse than the targets more far-reaching than the burglars ever imagined. >> diplomats, government employees, prominent presence. the fbi at one time sought to blackmail the late hour and the 13 in the committee suicide. >> marriages destroyed, that encouraged. many americans for tax, had to
8:26 am
mail a print by the cia and the fbi and tax returns used illegally. congress issued a series of reforms capably webster took over the fbi in 1978, his mandate was clear. >> my primary focus is making clear that going pro was no longer one of the errors in the quiver of the fbi. rerouted that business forever. >> address type x write about but does not do that to you do this is to reveal that. >> you can see the information might be useful, but the method is hardly just as viable. there's a way to take on in the courts and deal with it in a way. >> there were things happening that were flat out wrong. we took a risk to try to do if they could to to it. >> the burglars were never
8:27 am
caught. either he cited the statute of limitations running out, the fbi closed the case unsolved. >> on the very last memo where they say that they think broke into the office, they are down to seven people. only one of the media burglars. >> for 20 years, betty medsger had no idea that the burglars or until one night an old acquaintance she was having dinner with let it slip. >> my youngest daughter mary was there. i said you really have to know better because she's the 1% of those documents to you. denny chin dropped like that. >> i was absolutely stunned. >> medsger spent years got them to reveal the secret they vowed to keep forever. the mastermind recently died, but he and for this are identified medsger's book, trent 10 and a new document tree, 1971
8:28 am
directed by joanna hamilton. >> the extraordinary story of this event is smaller than that had very far-reaching consequence. >> the exposure pushed congress to rein in government surveillance. he created a special court, the so-called fisa court to issue warrants for intelligence agents dislodges by non-us citizens. after 9/11, more wide reaching surveillance was allowed pages to match the nsa spy abuse has grown with largely unknown until 2010 when contractor edward snowed in late classified documents. [applause] >> whether these programs and policies are right or wrong. >> reportedly obtain a top secret court orders requiring verizon to turn over records of millions of americans to the national security agency. >> revelations of phone records and e-mails have renewed
8:29 am
questions about the balance between privacy and security. >> i definitely see parallels between snowden's case in our case. we'll reveal change public opinion, which is why the laws were changed. revealing ourselves to get people arguing about what the fbi did in that the nsa is doing now. ♪ [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> hello, everyone. welcome. i have been asked to ask you to turn off our silence your thoughts coming your cell phone and refrain from flash photos. i am catherine waterson.
8:30 am
also known as kacey burkhard when i wrote for the philadelphia evening bulletin a number of years ago. [applause] tonight i am so honored to introduce betty medsger, author of "the burglary: the discovery of j. edgar hoover secret fbi." as well as three of the eight members of the courageous antiwar act to this group who risked their futures to break into the fbi office in pennsylvania 43 years ago and feel not just on, but every document in that office. [applause] during the following week after the burglary, while the fbi was looking frantically for the perpetrators, they moved 200
8:31 am
agents in to the powell plan neighborhood where i think many people from this audience lives. the group was called the south pacific save to investigate the fbi photocopied and mailed out hundreds of the fbi's directives that prove beyond any doubt that the fbi had reaching an illegal and secretive criminal war against political dissent, you can civil rights in the right activists in justice. the citizens commission sent the first batch of files to five people. three journalists and two members of congress. it shows how powerful jay approvers hold was because four of those five have received the files turned them over to the fbi. one person did not.
8:32 am
top is betty medsger, a reporter at the "washington post" said that time. she wrote the first story about the contents of this document and after the washington post had published it, which was a struggle for them because this was not popular thinking. people didn't believe it unless it had happened to them. after her story, others picked up the story and it opened the floodgates of investigation that would unmask huger and the fbi and ultimately open the public's mind to the pentagon papers that follow watergate and other dvds of our government that were illegal. for years we have never known the identity of these burglars. but now through betty medsger's
8:33 am
brilliant book, we not only get to go inside the burglaries of, pitted that the lies and the mind of the people who were committed. she also takes us inside those times which were so passionate and with the escalation of the war and the bombing, she really shows what can help these activities to take these risks to right the wrongs they were seeing. betty was the perfect person to do this the end she's been working on it for 20 years. she not only worked as a journalist for the washington posts in the philadelphia evening bulletin, but she also became chair of the journalism department at san francisco state university and she is founder of center for integration and improvement of journalism. her research in this the is
8:34 am
exhausted. it's hard to imagine how many documents she read, how many interview she can act together two decades to create this book. alone she rad to 33,698 pages the fbi had put out about media burglary among other things. on stage with her tonight will be three of the eight members of the city said aware that i'd are hard to their heads to take these risks for all of us. to me they have always been heroes because they proved what we were experiencing, but had not had any evidence that before except our own eyes and that was not necessarily the least. the three-part johnny and bonnie raines who had three young children at the time of the burglary and keith forsyth.
8:35 am
keith is now an engineer. at that time he was a full-time activist and cab driver who went to learn how to pick the fbi's block. a professor of religion at temple university had been a freedom rider in the 1960s where he witnessed the war against blacks in america. bonnie had taught in harlem in an educated writer experience is. direct her to daycare center at the time of the burglary. and missing person tonight is harvard physics professor, note that the nun who was the architect. what did i just say? he died this past november and so sadly he is not here with us. instead he writes, don't want the public to doubt that despite
8:36 am
the vast governmental power, the giant goliath was especially when it did during together. please join me in welcoming betty medsger, john raines, said six and keith forsyth. [cheers and applause] [applause] >> good evening. it's wonderful to be here near the home of the burglary and the home of the investigation that
8:37 am
was god first 200 fbi trying to find these people. in case you haven't seen them recently, you just now heard their name, keith forsyth, said six [applause] and john raines. [applause] especially nice to be in this immediate area, the beautiful library and also this neighborhood. this is the neighborhood that the data down in his sleep wise, maxi me post the tune immediately prior in the years prior to her death in 2010 and enjoyed many things about the neighborhood including coming here for events. that feels like a special time for us. i assume if you are here and have the bcs and show that you know a lot about the burglary. so i won't rehash the details except through some things i
8:38 am
would like to say. it really began in 1970 when the data done had a very powerful idea. as he moved from peace organization to peace organization that year, people kept telling him that they thought there were spies in their mid. he would not be a believer in conspiracies and was not among his regulated. as a physicist he believed in the scientific method. he really thought people were perhaps imagining that, that people in the movement by that time had such a sense of lack of hope for depression about what they felt was their failure to stop the war. and so, as he heard this more and more from a greater variety of people, he decided a few this is true. if it's true, if the government
8:39 am
is officially suppressing dissent, this is a chronic and democracy and it's a crime that needs to be stopped. and in that idea was the origin of the question that he then asked 10 people he met with individually in late 1970 and asked, what do you think of her gracing an office? no, not a question that many people would ask. he invited 10 people. one said no. when turned them down and there were nine. and then, just not long before, several days before the burglary, the ninth person to ninth person abandoned the group. that person knew everything that was planned and these people in the other burglars didn't seem
8:40 am
to be fazed by that for a number of other obstacles i think most people would be fazed by it. and they proceeded to plan and they seem to have -- they did have the same results that bill had a malicious heart for many of us to imagine that instead of thinking like most people would oppose such a problem, how do you get evidence that the most powerful law enforcement agents be in the country is suppressing dissent when it's also the most secretive and the most high-tech good organization? most people would be safe to say but if that this is a problem that cannot be solved. sure it's terrible and simply lament and bill was a problem solver and he thought this problem is not too big to solve. it is so big it must be solved. in that commitment and the
8:41 am
commitment the other string within with the burglary was born. the first news about the burglary with about two paragraphs long. it was a confirmation that the burglary had occurred and somebody at the fbi said something about as profound as if he thinks missing. two weeks later we found out everything was missing, dead in the dark for burglars had gone in and they had removed every piece of paper they found in a mounted about a thousand files. the documents shop the american public. again, it is so important to remember what a revered person who ever was. there is that file to set enhance the paranoia. make people think there's an fbi agent behind every mailbox. that was a devastating thing to
8:42 am
discover about the top law enforcement agent c. in the country. people started calling major members of congress for the first time. prominent members of congress called for an investigation of the fbi. major newspapers in their editorials call for investigation of the fbi, including the philadelphia fire, which part of that time had ever been anything for jay after hoover and the fbi and that's not to single out the wire. that was true across the country. fortunately, when i found the burglars from the two the burglars -- and the tv did not, fortunately they have agreed to come forward and tell their
8:43 am
stories. they first came forward on the day the burglary was published and had a show -- a private showing of the documentary, 1971 is also about her story and will be shown here for the first time i made 28 at the constitution center. it seems like a very appropriate in the constitution said. and now, thanks to their deciding that they would no longer be silent, and day in the significant but they did, i hope, can be remembered. i'm going to start with a question that i think a lot of people asked them was just asked of me this afternoon a reporter who's trying to figure out how the world you are able to do what you did. what made it possible for you to
8:44 am
decide to do such a radical thing? were their roots in your early via skype listening to evolution at that time? how would you describe how it was possible? >> i think that's probably harder for the younger people to understand that the people who are our age and live through that era. but there were an awful lot of things very wrong with our country at that time. not that it's perfect today, but not like it was then. and so, i don't know. it didn't seem like such a momentous decision at the moment. when you see some thing that is that wrong and no one whose job it is to do some thing about it is doing anything about it and it just seems, let's do it.
8:45 am
i don't know how else to ask you. >> what about the evolution you went through? you had in a very different person and then changed your position. >> sure, i come from the midwest small town, not that i thought much about politics as a kid, but relatively conservative environment. so certainly in those days i would never have been allowed to strains of matching doing something like that. i think what happened to me is what happened to a lot of people in my case, a fellow from philadelphia whom i haven't seen in the intervening 40 some years gave me a small book about the history of the tom, that was
8:46 am
published by the quakers, the religious society and at the time gave me this book, he was basically uninterested in politics and he was trying to come and finish it be. he came in this book to read and never returned my whole life upside down because this very sure both teach at the history of american involvement in vietnam and documented very well why there is absolutely no legitimate reason whatsoever for us to be there. it was about democracy. it is about empire and all the things i had been told by the media and society at large and by my schooling, having to do with why we're over there were all lies. and so, it was quite a difficult to to accept for me because i
8:47 am
just wasn't used to the idea of thinking people relying to me. but you know, the quakers were an organization i have a lot of these facts were. i came from a very religious background. there is a process involved, the recently when i came up to does the tunnel, i was convinced they're right and what i previously believed was completely wrong. so at that point i just felt like i had to do some thing about this. i don't know if that answers your question. >> would each of you describe your evolution coming to the point where you could do some thing like this? >> well, i guess i was always, even as a child, can send about you agog and particularly aware
8:48 am
of how our society fails the poorest children. i became very aware of any quality. and then i moved on teaching school in new york to moving to philadelphia and joining an enormous movement in protest against the war. there were many, many at this in philadelphia at that time. i was anxious to affiliate with those activists and look for ways to take action. we ought to do same things. we marched, went to rallies, to assist washington. we did all of that to no avail and the worm is escalating and government was lying to citizens about the war. i just became very much
8:49 am
interested in protesting and that became an affiliation with the group at that time called the catholic left. the group itself is called the east coast conspiracy to save lives. and with that group, we ran into draft boards in the middle of the night and removed draft files in the street then. we were one of many groups doing that kind of civil disobedience and we were doing what we could to disrupt the draft system, but the work in to need to escalate and therefore it became a compelling thing for me to find another way as a citizen, as an individual can turn woman to take action to begin to change systems in a serious kind of
8:50 am
way. that true me in to their part of the cat looked like that was interested in something like a break-in and the ingenious idea, which is to break-in to an fbi office and remove files and hopefully have hard evidence about what was going on at that time. >> i think it is so important to realize what they talk about them what they did, that they had no idea whether there is anything of value in the office, whether they would find any document that has the evidence they had time. i think of that in contrast to add word stopped dead right now who knew what he was doing because he was in his later they were an outsider. he saw the evidence; in it. they face the same risk that if they had found empty forms, they would've faced the same risk as
8:51 am
the maid found some things that became. >> john, you have typed in the past about the evolution in your life and what made it possible. >> well, i'm looking at people with a lot of gray hair out there. i suspect i am looking at people who are back in the 1960s. some of you are in the streets with me because that is what was going on back then. philadelphia was the sender of the protest may have been in many respects. past and thousands of people protesting against the war from the 65 right on through. the reason i got active with the east coast conspiracy was to save lives, learned my skills from priests and nuns. this is true. >> how many are here?
8:52 am
[laughter] >> i've active in the civil rights movement beginning in 19 xt one. i was a freedom writer and was arrested at a jail in little rock. that began from the second education that in many respects i was not supposed to get. i was born into an affluent with private camps in elite schools and all the lesser, sailing, horseback riding, all that stuff. so i needed an education that i didn't get. the education i got first i didn't choose it. none of us get to choose our first identity as a life lived for top job, a world understood from top down. the world understood, and identity form by human type privilege and inside power. so i did know what it was like to live in america. i only knew what it was like to live in a tiny bubble at the
8:53 am
top. i got a second education. many of them without college education. the top me what it meant to be an american. it is from them that i learned the price you're willing to to pay for freedom. i saw people lose their jobs because they stood in line. i was standing behind a black woman in southwest georgia in 1965. a woman half her ridge said in a fine burger lover, pick and. that changed my understanding of what the meaning of the vote is. it is easy to be cynical about all the money quarrymen and all that stuff. but those teachers, poor folks taught me what it's like when you have two struggle for freedom, when you have two struggle for deep indeed.
8:54 am
and that changed me. i went down south to help them. i came back from the south because i was there in 1964 he. i came back from the south with a different way of being john marines. that is what it out to the war in vietnam. and i need d'amboise which it was her was because we found out what she had kruger was down in the south. jay edgar hoover hated martin luther king. he wanted things to return to quiet. he was not a good man. he is in the largest and first in american history, fighting as he said, subversion and subverting the freedoms that this country and he very nearly got away with it. he was the most profitable than
8:55 am
a mosh to them. they could not touching. so somebody had to do some thing about that and. so that became our tests. [applause] >> and he did get away with it for half of a century. there are many people who think at that time and still that the fbi in the 1970s that has never been in this dictated. none of the change -- none of the questions that have been raised if it had not been for what they did. despite all of the courage that you had an unwillingness to go ahead, there also was a great deal of various kinds of fear. i wonder if you could talk about
8:56 am
some of europe's earrings is. first a practical one for keith. the night of the burglary. i think there were a couple times when you had good experiences. first of all company of trade to open how fast? >> on average, 32nd. >> egypt to lock picker olympics every night and they're adding, which was a center of the planning. >> i just want to correct one slight misstatement that was made before. i didn't study lock picking to break in the office. i studied to break-in to draft bruce first. >> but the fbi was kind of like the graduate school. [laughter] >> so when you cannot night in
8:57 am
your topcoat you got at a thrift shop. >> we were all dressed very well and most of the people in the group did not need haircuts to that respect to both, but there were two of us 50. so they got his haircut. we were willing to sacrifice a lot. last night isn't so, in addition to bonnie's casing of the site sometime before to make sure every thing was good. when i got there that night in one of the locks is different than the way i remembered it the, dramatically different as in i don't know how to open not locked. >> wasn't there also one more luck than you thought? >> this is where memories a little fake after all these years. there's always two locks on the door. they were the standard time like
8:58 am
on your front door. last night >> don't worry. i'm not short of money at the moment. so, one of the locks when i arrived at night was not at type of high-security locks do you see today in a kryptonite bike lock. it takes a special tool to pagan and special techniques. at that moment, my heart sank because immediately i thought i'm incompetent because they didn't see this before and the whole thing is out because i can't get to the door. subsequent after reading some of the documents turned out, did
8:59 am
recently changed that law. be that as it may, at that point i completely lost my cool. i was not able to stay calm in didn't have a plan b. it completely freaked out and called back to headquarters and said -- yeah, i don't know what i said that it probably was a coherent. i was very upset. so that time it did not get myself out of this year. it was severely fear. it is more just when you really want something badly and said do you think you're not going to get it, you are very upset. everybody talked me down and have a think about this. and still the king of calm. i know there's quite a few people in the audience who knew bill and he just did not get flustered. he was so analytical and we all
9:00 am
talked about it in and what about the second door? and so, then i started to feel better. so i went back and. >> there was a problem with the second door. >> brave. but not in the beginning. i got through it no problem. but what about a quarter of an inch. there is a debt bolt on the other side. ..
9:01 am
when you ask about if there is somewhere in the process of getting to the second door i heard a clicking sound inside the office. at that point i was scared. and i did know if it was a the heating system or the fbi jostling furniture. so what are you going to do? to take a couple deep breaths and hope it's the heating system. [laughter] it's just not the kind of thing you're going to give up at that point. i can't imagine that. >> you described this is happening in a very public place. >> right. >> the building -- >> the hallway of an apartment building actually.
9:02 am
>> an open stairwell, well lit. you went in from the outside into a well lit space where you could be seen outside or inside, went up the stairs. everything was open to the third and fourth floors where people lived. and so the reason that he had been especially careful about trying to do it very fast was that they were concerned that residents might come by and it would be somebody standing, breaking into an fbi office. what was planned to take about 30 seconds into taking quite a long time. >> it took much longer. i don't know how lengthy we want to get here, but basically after i got through the deadbolt i got another half inch and the door stopped again. there was a ginormous file cabinet -- yeah, well, you probably did. [laughter]
9:03 am
>> but he had no choice. >> but you forgot to move it while you're in there. [laughter] >> so i started, you know, i could tell by the way the door moved that the doorknob was hitting the file cabinets i started pushing and this thing started tipping. [laughter] and i'm guessing it weighed roughly a hundred pounds, something of that order, about what i weighed. so if they get the ground that would have been the end because i know that would have awakened everybody in the building. so there had to be a way to move it, and the floor with carpet. so i eventually went out to the car. thank goodness this was 1971 and not 20 years later when the real jacks in cars, and got the pill out of the jack about so long and used that as a prybar. so there i was laying on the floor of the hallway --
9:04 am
[laughter] >> so residents could come by anytime spent with my feet braced up against the wall working this crowbar, our jack stand about a millimeter at a time but i don't really remember how long it took me. it seemed like a hundred years but it was probably at least 20 minutes. you could move it very far without tipping it over. that was really the most nerve-racking. because it would be pretty hard to explain that -- [laughter] that scene. and so, yeah, that was a relief when that was over. and i finally got inside. >> let's talk about a different kind of fear. john, the kind of fear that you experienced in the weeks leading up, the fear and concern about the family. the burglars were children, john and bonnie had three small children at the time. >> we were both burglars,
9:05 am
therefore, we both faced possible prison time. bonnie was much more courageous in some ways that i was. after bonnie went into the fbi and tasted them and found that there was no security devices either on the file cabinets or on the doorways, then it became clear, and gives the first time it did become clear, that we're going to do this. that's when i started getting nervous because i knew that j. edgar hoover went through everything he had at us. and he did. i mean can he set out 200 agents to try to find us. they were everywhere. some of you, if you're living in the villages or the university city back then, you remember how many fbi, they've just poured all over the place. yeah, for the first five years i was scared. we were very lucky in the sense that we have done our casing very carefully. we were not reckless.
9:06 am
we were meticulous. and then we were also very lucky because there were thousands of activists back then, and when they left no physical evidence, from the scene itself of the burglary we could -- we could disappear into this sea of fellow activists. and with very little physical evidence to go on to separate us out from the other thousand activists, it became really impossible, retrospectively, it became impossible for those 200 agents to find us. but for the first five years i was looking over my shoulder every now and then. >> bonnie, would you talk about the philosophy that you and john had really developed long before the burglary about resistance and family? >> i think we came to the realization that it really is up to every citizen in a democracy
9:07 am
to protect rights in a democracy. and if there is abuse of those rights, you can't just sit back and wait for someone else to either take action or look the other way. we felt determined to participate as citizens, and also a second very important reason for us was that we were thinking about the kind of society our children would grow up in two, and what was that society going to look like in terms of true democracy. and we wanted to try to guarantee the rights of all citizens as much as we could individually. and we felt that you don't start being responsible because you are a parent. in some ways you need to be more responsible because you really investing in your children's
9:08 am
future. and we were a political family. our children were hearing a lot about activism and the war in vietnam. and they were, they were beginning to understand the values that were so important to us and to our colleagues. >> we also, you have to remember, that we still routinely as a society require fathers and mothers to take on jobs that protect and help the rest of us that put them in jeopardy. everyday a policeman goes to work, he or she puts their kids lives on the line. everyday five people go out and climb the ladders, they put their families in jeopardy. everyday mothers and fathers in the armed services go overseas and fight, they put their families in jeopardy.
9:09 am
we don't ever stop, you know, being citizens. probably the single most important gift we give to our children is not their education, although that's important, it is a nation they're going to live their lives in and raise their children and grandchildren and. that's the most important gift we give our kids. if we did not stop j. edgar hoover, there was nobody in washington who's going to stop that man. we had to do what we did or it just wouldn't get done. >> keith, you're going to -- >> i was just going to say what john just, you know, quoted john. [laughter] i think that's a tremendous analogy. >> do you remember as one of the youngest number of the group at the time, did you remember to -- >> still i am. [laughter] >> sorry. but you're a father now.
9:10 am
and you don't have the white hair. [laughter] do you remember what you thought when you saw those three kids running around in the house as you're planning the burglary? did that mean anything? >> oh, absolutely. i thought these people are some people with the guts, meaning these two right here. [applause] i was very impressed. >> i'd like to ask one more question of you before we turn it over to audience questions. looking back and thinking of the burglary and its aftermath, and today, what do you think is the most important discovery or lesson that emerged from the burglary and its impact? >> boy, that's a tough one.
9:11 am
>> you can succeed. >> yet. >> you can beat them. >> yes. [applause] >> yeah. i mean, i think you know, goliath is tough but he's not invulnerable. and so i think that's still true today, and probably always will be. >> bonnie. >> i think probably it has something to do with the truth, that if you can get the truth out there, and articulate what needs, the message that needs to go out, that people will take that seriously. and in some cases change their expectations of their government. that's one of the things i think i learned. the other is how frightening it is that one man and one
9:12 am
institution can gather so much raw power to do what he did over five decades. and that is frightening to me, and hopefully will not ever happen again. but that was, certainly that lesson was there. >> build was very strong on these points also -- bill. and talk about the importance of planting seeds of hope, being willing to fail but trying over and over again, and saying how many times that the movement did fail. but this one time we did succeed and how good it felt. >> we would like to questions from the audience. there's a mic coming, right?
9:13 am
>> i spent a lot speeded please identify yourself in my name is rick konrad. i spent a lot of years working with bill and as much on apri april 4, 1960 where we were at a meeting planning a demonstration is going to happen april 6. we have been told by john, the coordinator of nonviolent action is a chance martin luther king would come to the demonstration if the city basically gave a schedule. he was such a schedule to start the poor people's campaign, which all of us intended to be part of. and the phone rang in the office and this is a story about bill, really. because he was really i think our leader. there were many others like george, but bill for me was the greatest inspiration. the phone rang and john went to answer it. i think all of us were wondering, was that the martin
9:14 am
luther king, was going to come to our demonstration? it was the battleship new jersey being christened ago to slaughter people in the. said john couldn't talk and his wife and over and bill said, was that martin luther king? and john was just -- tears were flowing all over and joseph, king has been killed and i wondered how much, maybe in retrospect it that, because my understanding is there's a document where huber says we're going to have to use the drug strategy to destroy the civil rights movement. but he certainly, you know, was in print shown to be a total enemy of civil rights. >> so the question -- [laughter] >> is that where the document came from, the one about where continuous talk about exploiting
9:15 am
drugs? that was from your break-in, right? >> that was the most explosive document. we didn't know what cointelpro met, countercultures program is, written on top of one of the documents, but we didn't know what that was. it took about two or three years and a very important investigative reporter that worked for nbc, karl stern, nvidia to use the freedom of information act. finally, following the trail of cointelpro he got the documents. one of those documents, and that he has seen it. the letter was sent anonymously to dr. martin luther king in 1964, blackmailing him and saying the only way he can get out of this, clear his name now, is to commit suicide. that was okayed by j. edgar hoover. that was sent to martin luther king. >> cointelpro was revealed as result of a document in the
9:16 am
media burglary that just simply have that label on the top, and that was the cue that karl stern took up. but the files about dr. king were not there, but there were files in the media group that documented the blanket surveillance of the african-american community, not only in philadelphia, but throughout the united states. >> good evening, and thanks for attending this. were the document recovered from the fbi office limited to fbi files, or whether also cia files included? >> were there any cia files? >> no, no. the files that we obtained were in just two categories. one, about 40% of them are related to criminal investigations, and we didn't
9:17 am
want to do anything with us thoe because we didn't want to jeopardize witnesses, for example. about 60% of the documents were political in nature. and that's what we concentrated on and that's where we found some very incriminating pieces of information. there was nothing related to national security whatsoever. >> yes? >> how did you form your group? did you stay in touch with people afterwards? and who did you send these documents to? >> so, starting with the last question, we sent out the documents in sort of ways. the initial set went to betty, dispute the nelson at the washington bureau of the "l.a. times," to tom wicker, to
9:18 am
representative mitchell into senator george mcgovern. senator mcgovern and representative mitchell sent them back to the fbi. mitchell at least said that there was disturbing material in it, which was further than the mcgovern went. the ones that went to tom wicker went back to the fbi also. baby, i don't think anyone knows for sure how that happened, whether he got them and returned in or whether they were intercepted and returned, no windows. but once it went to scoop nelson, he went to his deathbed never no difference in the files because the mailroom person there was an fbi informer and was reading all his mail your and grabbed the documents and sent them back to the fbi before he got them. so luckily, betty was not high enough on the enemies list to have her own private informer
9:19 am
comments of the documents got through to her. later on thursday to other people as well. as far as how we got together i think betty described actually. bill decided who he thought was trustworthy and he approached them one at a time and that's it was organized. and basically i think we all felt, i know i felt it, if someone can is built thought they were trustworthy, then not is what all he needed to know. they were trustworthy. we agreed not to get together again after we finished stripping the last of the documents, for security reasons. which is also why we didn't keep everything that we found. we trashed a lot of it because it was basically evidence. so tell the most important things and distributed and characterized, you know, counted up what we had. but we didn't keep it and we didn't stay in touch with each other. so we intentionally basically
9:20 am
uploaded each other for the next -- longer than five years really. >> i would just like to ask about jack nelson. at that time by 1971, there were probably only two reporters in the country who had written anything that raised questions about j. edgar hoover and the fbi. and the strongest one of those was jack nelson. what's been discovered later, since then is that at that time, hoover had a very active campaign going inside the "l.a. times" to get jack nelson fired. he failed at that, but he succeeded in some ways, for instance, by there being somebody inside the office who looked at his mail. and in this instance made sure he never got the mail.
9:21 am
>> to questions. betty, how long was it between the time that you received the files and your first story? >> i received the file at 10:00 in the morning, and by 10:00 that night they decided to publish and they were in the next day's paper. [applause] >> that was not a simple thing though. i mean, she did not want to publish. it was the first time that a journalist had ever received secret government files from someone outside the government who had stolen them come in contrast to an inside whistleblower. so that raise ethical, legal questions. and inside counsel also opposed publication, but the two editors strongly pushed for publication, and she changed her mind.
9:22 am
this is also the first time that the nixon administration had pressed her to not publish a story come to suppress the story. she had much practice with that later on, as you know. [laughter] >> and the second question is for the group. a thousand miles, are there any files still out there or how did you destroy them? >> wow. with the criminal files, i think we just burn them, destroy them. the political files, we sent all of them off that we had spent we photocopied them first. >> oh, yeah. that was interesting, too. [laughter] bill took out the files to a copy machine and i took the other half. how many people are from --
9:23 am
[laughter] on the weekend when the office was closed, i took half of the files to the xerox machine at temple university. [applause] we didn't realize that every xerox machine has a fingerprint on the drum. you can trace back a given document copy to a particular machine. we did know that at the time. about two weeks after we mailed the documents in -- and the story broke, i was in my office one day and i saw a xerox car pull up to the curb, a guy got up, came into our xerox machine, remove the drum and left. the great mystery is, who was that guy? [laughter] i mean, the files that i copied could have been traced right to that office, but it never
9:24 am
happened. >> it was interdisciplinary. the physics department was heavy-duty. let's see. yes. >> so, i'm sure that you've seen echoes of yourselves in edward snowden, also what he did was slightly different. but we seem a lot of outrage over the information he is republican not a lot of action. in your opinion, what do we do next? >> well, make demands of citizens. we knew something about the fbi and the degree of surveillance they were using to intimidate, not to investigate but to intimidate. it was a political action. nasa and cia want us to be
9:25 am
afraid. they need for us to be afraid. in some strange way, nasa and the cia run on the same gasoline as the terrorists are the terrorists want us to be afraid to go into public space that we share in common. space we sure that we must take granted essay. we can get on the bus and actually think this guy might be a test. we have to take for granted. that's what the terrorists want to take away from us. cia, nsa, same gasoline. they want us to be afraid. they need us to be afraid. there are thousands and thousands and thousands of jobs depended upon us continued to be afraid. we think we need to have hundreds and thousands of hundreds of people out there protecting us. we give each other the gift of safety every time we walk out of the door in the morning. we are the ones who provide a
9:26 am
safe environment for all of us. i'm not downplaying terrorism. i'm just saying there's some kind of strange ideology they gasoline, fear, fear. look out, look out. you need us community does, don't ask us question. et al. national secure the. be afraid. be afraid. well, look out. [applause] spent some of us won't be afra afraid. >> is not directly read the question, it would edward snowden. i think, you know, there's been, most of the people have come in and one way or the other about what we did and about our recent coming out, it's been favorable. editorials in the paper and individual comments on the internet and so on and so forth. if this event 30 or 40 years ago, i bet the proportion of
9:27 am
favorable comments would've been an awful lot less. the reality would've been different with the opinion would've been. i think we're seeing a bit of that would edward snowden. there was a homeless vet on "the daily show" about him getting pardoned by some president 300 years from now. it's sad and it's true that i am grateful that people are in favor of revealing government illegitimate secrets by whatever means necessary, but i think, you know, in some ways it's more pertinent to ask what can we do about what's happening today. and i don't know what the answer to that is but i think we have to figure out and do something.
9:28 am
>> my name is bob smith. i'm with a media company just a few years after the break-in. i'm not partial to using the term burglary because i've been charged with it for ploughshares civil disobedience action. but i did want to ask a couple things. many times over the years, and and we felt probably on average on the anniversary of the march 8 break-in, on international women's day, that we've held a celebration better that would connect very much to the current need for truth telling, truth telling. and for resisting the theater and i would just like to hold up, of course you mentioned phil who was a very close friend of many of ours but to remember
9:29 am
philip who taught us to break through the fear and to john peter brady who many of us knew as part of the east coast conspiracy. anyway, so i would just like to invite you all, and everyone here, on march 8 at noon to come out to media where we will have a media meet up in front of the county courthouse at veterans square and front street which is right across the street from where the county -- where the fbi and the selective service office was located just 10 feet from their that was the subject of many acts of civil disobedience which the fbi dealt with in anything but nonviolent fashion and against a few of us. anyway, to invite everyone,
9:30 am
including and i need to talk with you all, put a call into you, keith. to come out to media on march 8, saturday march age -- march 8 for what we're calling a media meet up for democracy, civil liberties and the set, to support edward snowden, to remember, and chelsea manning, private manning, and to remember that lineage that began with the citizens commission to investigate the fbi. thank you all very much. >> thank you. >> some people in the back and maybe. >> san'a. >> i just want to know if -- [inaudible] >> the fbi have a file on bill
9:31 am
davidon? the other way around? [inaudible] >> he didn't want to jump to any conclusions, and so his conviction by the fbi office was worth breaking into, must've been based on more than just an antipathy for the fbi. i would like to know what did bill davidon know about the fbi that you know of which convinced him to take this rather drastic action? >> i can answer that question. we talked about it quite a bit. he had no files on the fbi, but what he had was a strong perception that turned out to be true. he thought that j. edgar hoover was a consummate bureaucrat and
9:32 am
as such would keep the great detailed files on everything, including documents about how to deal with dissent. he didn't have any idea of the darley tricks involved, but he thought that j. edgar hoover was passionate would require the meticulous records be kept of everything. he also, he was a right wing ideologue and when you combine those two things, that that was a very dangerous combination. he had no idea what files would be found. just that it was probably true that very dangerous explicit files might exist. [inaudible] >> there were other fbi office locally. my one question is why the media? my second question is, over the five years, the fbi ever get
9:33 am
close to any of the eight? >> answer to why media, because you couldn't to downtown philadelphia. the building was used 24 hours a day. >> we did chase the philadelphia fbi office that the security was too tight. [inaudible] >> aside from media, why did you pick a media over the other outlying philadelphia office is? >> divine guidance. i don't really know spent when he tells the story, he describes going downtown one day for another purpose, but i'll check out where the fbi is. tall building, impossible. 24 hour security. and then he described some time later looking in a suburban phonebook. looking for a suburban
9:34 am
phonebook, and fbi office, went out and looked and others would later and decided this might be doable. >> i want to add, you think this would ever be a movie? [laughter] >> there's a documentary that you have a chance to see in late may, as i announced, on may 28 at the constitution center and there are some people who have expressed interest in making a movie. but you have a chance to see the real -- yes, sir. >> so first of all, excusing, i have a bit of cold. everything you said has been very inspirational. i want to thank you for your sacrifice. this is an ongoing struggle. this is an ongoing struggle but
9:35 am
we have to continue to do this and i'm looking around the room and i'm happy to see all you people here. but what i'm not happy about is i don't see any young people. >> there's a few. [laughter] >> and bring your friends, right? spent several of my students back there. i see them. >> to questions. do you have any plans? and if not, will you help us if we organized plans to come speak to young people at the schools and whatever they hang out? >> well, young people haven't lost hard. young people have lost hope. i teach that age group, and i think there's a great yearning to begin to try to believe in the meaning of america again. and the meaning of america is
9:36 am
freedom and we lost a lot of. but the heart has not been lost on those young folks. they have a lot of heart. and i think they're waiting for the right moment. that moment is really what happened, because our country here is in very bad shape right now. the inequality. the inequality, the mess in the goalie, the masses use of money, all money now not only elections but between elections, all that carpetbagging stuff that goes on in washington. the young people haven't given up on this country. >> i also think we have to come as more mature citizens now, help the young people connect, help them find ways to connect, to organize using their social media and every other good tool that they have so that they are not just feeling cynical and apathetic and alone in looking at the problems in our country.
9:37 am
that they can be empowered by connecting, and we can help them try to make that possible. >> to the extent that we are able to be speaking things, we are probably more interested in talking to younger people. >> we've had some nice invitations from schools and the universities. >> we have time for one more question. >> this is a logistical question for bonnie. i'm just picturing that sketch of you. i want to hear, i haven't read the book yet, i will. is probably answered in the book, but who do that? did they draw sketches everyone who came in? how do that sketch get made? >> well, i don't know, i was back to i could hear everything, but he describes in the book that my roll in preparing for
9:38 am
the burglary was to go inside the office. therefore, my face was after the fact, they realize they had been cased by my face. i did try to disguise my parents as much as they could. i never take my clothes off the whole time i was taking notes in my little notebook. when i was interviewing the man in the office, but it didn't come it was a pretty crummy sketch and it didn't really look like dashing it didn't look very much like i looked on a day-to-day basis. [inaudible] spent they did realize it. >> they thought of her immediately, that woman as j. edgar hoover would often refer to the, that woman came into the office. >> fine to me that woman, a quote. j. edgar, she's right here. [laughter] >> there was so many young women who are activists at that time. i could've been just any one of
9:39 am
i've hunted, 29 your women in philadelphia. some of those people suffered abuse advance of the attack because they thought they were bonnie. >> very frightening. >> have in your door broken down and that sort of thing. >> i would like to thank you very much, and i would also just like to say that, given everything that we now know about the impact of what they did, we have here people who have pulled off one of the most horrible nonviolent acts of resistance in the country. [applause]


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on